by Jonathan Weaver
A former Kittanning Senior High tradition will continue at Armstrong High next week to raise money for a Lenape Elementary girl stricken with cancer.
Starting at 9PM April 22, teams of students will strive to dance and play games all night in the school gymnasium to raise money and awareness for Ford City’s Sydney Brison.
10-year-old Brison was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) in November 2009, but just months after treatment, she relapsed in August 2012 and has had to endure intense chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Student Council Co-President Gina Roncher said more than 200 students will be participating in the “Club Penguin”-themed fundraiser.
“We are hoping that Sydney is able to come, at least for a little bit, to enjoy everything,” Roncher said. “Right now, she’s in the hospital so they don’t really want us to get her sick. We’re just hoping the doctors let her come the day of.
Roncher, who called Brison a ‘fighter’ due to her remission, is also captain of the Purple Team. This will be her third dance-a-thon.
“We’re really excited,” Roncher said. “We’ve always gone, but it’s sad this is going to be (the senior class’) last one.”
Students are separated into 22 teams – with about 10 students per team.
In addition to a DJ, Roncher said student council members are also considering cornhole and ping pong tournaments and ice cream to keep students awake.
Co-Chair Nathan Goldner resumes his role on Team Light Pink. He said the struggle to stay awake strikes at about 4AM.
“We want to (raise more money) than last year since we only had one team from Ford City,” Goldner said. “So, now we have more people (and can raise) more money.”
Decorations around the gymnasium include inflatables, black lights and a DJ.
Brison’s brother, Alec, also is a junior at Armstrong High.
Student Council Advisor Barb Meleason said students recommended Brison benefit from the dance-a-thon in December. She praised student council leaders.
“The kids are wonderful,” Mealeason said. “They have gone above-and-beyond. Almost the entire student council will have their hand in something.”
So far, about $200 has also been raised in an online GoFundMe account.
Last year, a dozen teams – including one from Ford City – raised more than $10,000 during the “Glow for Gabe” dance-a-thon at Kittanning Senior High to assist five-year-old Gabe Aguirre of Rayburn Township during his battle with leukemia.
In March 2014, the 10-hour “Jamming for James” dance-a-thon raised nearly $7,000 to benefit James Lindahl, the three-year-old son of Health Teacher Cindi Lindahl – who was also battling leukemia.